The Innovation Center for US Dairy-conducted merchandising trial involved the development and execution of in-store 'meal solution' merchandising - providing meal planning support and a 'one-stop shop' to stock up on the ingredients needed for a recipe.
The trial focused on three key meal occasions – breakfast, snacking and dinner – and capitalised on several current retail trends, including the resurgence of home cooking, ‘on-the-go’ convenience, health and wellness and cheap gourmet meal experiences.
According to the research report, Dairy Meal Solutions: Merchandising Solutions, unit sales of the milk-based dairy products sold across the displays increased by 28.8%, while dollar sales witnessed an average increase of 29.8%.
This was achieved without the use of promotional pricing or additional marketing support.
Rebecca MacKay, vice president of strategy, insight and planning at Dairy Management Inc. – which helps build demand for the dairy products - has urged the US dairy industry to collaborate with retailers to develop and install these merchandising concepts.
“I think there is an opportunity here for retailers and manufacturers to work together on this,” MacKay told DairyReporter.com.
“Retailers currently do their shopper research. Manufacturers also do their own to understand what shoppers are looking for.”
“This is a real opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to marry their findings and deliver something unique to their customers.”
According to the report, meal solution merchandising can serve as an important tool – providing shoppers with “added value outside of cutting prices.”
MacKay added that all the retailers involved with the trial have begun implementing 'meal solution' displays in additional stores.
Some manufacturers involved in the trial have also begun work implementing this practice.
“I would like to see them used as a springboard towards bringing solutions for the shopper. It is an easy solution to firstly please shoppers and secondly increase sales,” added MacKay.
Leverage consumer trends
According to the research document, it is essential that retailers identify new strategies and leverage key consumer trends to remain competitive.
“With increased competition from alternative channels, grocers need to identify new strategies to stay competitive. Understanding and serving consumer needs is at the heart of protecting sales, and meal solution merchandising provides retailers the ability to leverage key consumer trends while providing shoppers with a more convenient option,” said the Innovation Center of US Dairy report.
“By adhering to the best practices identified through the Innovation Center’s merchandising pilot test and providing a thoughtful product mix, retailers have a strong opportunity to boost current grocery sales and protect future sales, including and beyond dairy,” the report added.